Olives, grapes, wheat, barley, figs, dates and pomegranates. These are the biblical seven species which were written would thrive in Israel’s sun-baked soil.

At the Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu – the only religious kibbutz in Israel to solely rely on agriculture and related businesses for its survival – they cultivate six of these seven varieties. And, they are doing so mostly without pesticides.

The central kibbutz buildings lie amidst green lawns and advanced trees. Spread out in the Beit Shein valley which runs out into the Sea of Gallilee, the kibbutz is also located on a migratory bird route.

The kibbutz is supported by a variety of businesses. One of these is Bio-Tour, a bustling business arm of the cooperative, which runs tours throughout its variety of agricultural operations and biological control systems.

Not only is Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu making its mark in Israeli agricultural circles for its organic production methods, but it is taking that one step further and has developed firstly a business which sells pest-devouring insects and secondly, a bumble bee business for use in the pollination of hothouse and open field crops.

The kibbutz grew from the Youth Aliyah movement – the group which rescued Jewish children from Nazis during the Third Reich. They arrived in 1935 and established the kibbutz in 1939. Sde Eliyahu was named in honor of Rabbi Eliyahu Gutmacher, who died in 1875, and who is known as one of the first rabbis to teach religious Zionism.

This story is an IYC Yearbook feature: https://ica.coop/en/iycbook